Finally, time to swirl.

Right, so you have prepared your guitar body to swirl following the previous tutorials. You have bought the borax and paints and want to know what to do next.

Fill the container

First of all you will need to fill your chosen container with water. You will need to fill it enough so that when you dip the guitar the water doesn’t over flow, but the guitar can easily be submerged with a few inches of water left above the guitar. This is because when the guitar is underwater it will try and push up. If you’re intending on doing this alone it is tricky to keep the guitar under the water whilst removing the remaining paint, so giving yourself some movement room is a good idea. In the same way you don’t want the guitar to touch the bottom or sides so make sure you have plenty of clearance all around.

Ideally the water temperature needs to be around 78/79 degrees farenheight (26 degrees Celsius), this temperature seems to be the ideal (thanks to lumosenvy for finding this out) you can achieve this a number of ways.

  1. You can add hot/cold water to just reach the desired temperature.
  2. You can use a water heater.

Personally I would just buy a water heater; these are really cheap and can be bought from any pet/aquatic shop. Aquatic heaters have thermostats built in so you just need to set the temp and wait until the light goes out (stirring occasionally so you do get hot spots). For the volume of water needed it’s probably best to get around a 300w heater if you’re going down this route.


Add The Borax

Once you have your water ready its time to add the borax, the mixture is about 1.5 tablespoons of borax per US gallon. The following calculator will help you with the measurements but this will only give you an estimate. It should be pretty much on the mark but with differant strengths of borax and water differances this might need tweaking if the paint is not acting as expected.

A good way to add the borax is to first add it to a bowl of boiling water before adding it to the main water. This helps it mix correctly with the water, doing it this way also allows you to run the boiling water through a sieve getting rid of any larger particles which are left over. However; this is not essential, you can just add the mixture and wait for 30 minutes for any bits to settle at the bottom.

You can just add the borax straight to the water and let it settle for 30 minutes as well but I find this doesn’t mix it as well. Plus it’s easier to mix it in a smaller bowl than it is to get a big mixing stick to slosh the water around in the main container to mix it. (Although you will need to stir it whichever way you add the borax).

Add The Paints

Before you dive straight in a little tip is to get a small container. Scoop some of the water into this and try adding paints to this rather than the main water. This way you dont contaminate the main dip if the paint doesnt spread as you would expect. If you are just practicing its probobl best to ust use a smaller bucket anyway so you dont waste much borax.

When you add the paint to the water try and 'lay' the paint onto the surface. Get the paint as close to the water as possible, the paint should really just flow straight onto the surface without falling fom the pot. If the paint gets any air time it is likely that it will go straight through the surface and sink straight to the bottom.

There are a number of things to watch for; ideally the paint will spread out evenly accros the waters surface as below. The video taken was just for testing which is why I wasnt being to careful whilst swirling the paints around. Also you can see in the swirl images at the end that the paint hadnt dispersed quite as much as I would have liked, but most people would be happy with something along those lines.


This hardly ever just happens though; after a while you will get a 'feel' for the paint and the flow but until then, here are some of the things which usually happen.

  • The paint spreads out slightly but most of the paint is still in the center giving a fried egg look
    Cause:To little borax
  • The paint spreads out but has a rought/broken up looking texture.
    Cause: This is usually due to the water being to cold.
  • The paint spreads out to much and stays to the edges.
    Cause:To much borax

Other problems include skinning over, and paint falling through the water.

Swirl The Guitar

Now for the fun part, once you are happy with adding the paints (you did practice didnt you?) you should ready to swirl your guitar.

Make sure you have done all the preperation before dipping as this will really add to the quality of the final product. If your wanting to record the dip now is the time to set up the camera.

You should have a good idea of how you want your swirl to turn out so make sure you have swirled the paints to your satisfaction. Do not dip if your not happy with either the way the paint has spread, or the swirl itself; you only want to have to do this once!

When dipping the guitar take your time but try and keep a constant downward motion as you dont want to double swirl any part of the guitar. Once you have fully submerged the guitar body remove the remaining paint with newspaper and remove. Try to gently remove any water beads by either air compressor set really low, hairdryer (although I do not recommend this as its not safe having a hair dryer near lots of water), or just by gently swinging the guitar round a bit.

Congratulations you should now have a swirled guitar!!

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